Companies & Sectors
Neyveli Lignite needs to develop own coal resources

With adequate cash reserves, it is time NLC management starts to think in terms of developing its own coal resources by expansion through additionally imported, advanced equipment, and generate more power


Press reports show that the Neyveli Lignite Corp (NLC) held its 58th annual general meeting (AGM) in Chennai, when B Surinder Mohan, chairman and managing director explained to shareholders about various projects that were being undertaken by them.


These include projects in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Telengana, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, apart from its home state of Tamil Nadu. The projects range from 50 MW to 150 MW. He explained that, additionally, NLC is also looking up opportunities for development in acquiring assets abroad, in far off places like Australia, Indonesia and Mozambique.


Even for some of their projects, outside Tamil Nadu, where Neyveli Lignite is actively associated, ironically, they too face the shortage of coal and the imperative need to secure supplies. This would cover obtaining "clearances", as usual. The two major projects in the pipeline are the 1,000 MW plant at Tuticorin and its own plant at Sirkali for 4,000 MW.


In the last couple of days, TV channels have been reporting the precarious inventory conditions of the power plants in the country and almost 58 plants have hardly a weeks' supply. All the assurances that have been given, including the 58 million tonnes of stock pile at various places and pitheads, it would appear, have not come to the rescue. In fact, Coal India has not made any announcement about the action taken to move this coal by a "coal express" to these power generators.


It is a sad commentary on how this apex organisation is working, if at all. After all the "work" done to get the fuel supply agreements (FSAs) from various consumers, what is the net result? We need to hear from someone who is responsible and who can deliver the goods in such trying circumstances.


We now revert back to the work in progress in Neyveli's work in its own backyard.


According to the annual report, the new thermal power plant (2 x 500 MW), sanctioned by the union government in June 2011, is expected to be commissioned by October 2017 and April 2018, ‘as per current status’. It appears that BHEL has been given the contract for steam/ turbo generator package and the balance of the plant has been awarded to Essar Projects. Why not revisit this contract and seek earlier delivery of the equipment?


In the case of the coal block at Pachwara South, in Jharkhand (reserves 279 million tonnes), Central Mine Planning & Design Institute Ltd (CMPDI) is carrying out exploratory drilling. Ministry of Coal had, similarly, given Jilga Barpali in Chhattisgarh (546 mt) and these are in progress. In the case of the joint venture among NLC, Mahanadi Coalfields and Hindalco, the coal mining at Talabira, in Odisha is "awaiting" environmental clearance. Likewise, Bithnock Thermal power project, linked with the coal mine at Bithnok in Rajasthan, environmental clearance can be obtained only after forest clearance, for which, it seems necessary application has been made.


A study of the annual report indicates that, like all other organisations, NLC are also having the stumbling blocks for clearances of one or the other; land acquisition continues to be a problem where owners have been demanding jobs as well. Rehabilitation is very much part of the corporate social responsibility and NLC seems to have a fairly good record in this area.


With adequate cash reserves, it is time NLC management starts to think in terms of developing its own coal resources by expansion through additionally imported, advanced equipment, and generate more power so as to ensure adequate supply not only to Tamil Nadu, but to all other sister states in the South.


Such a move will reduce dependence on power being obtained from the Northern grid, which is now linked to the Southern grid, but will "release" the excess power that could be used elsewhere. For this purpose, if BHEL and other equipment suppliers are unable to bring their delivery forward, it is time NLC starts looking for secondary support sources of supply. Import the equipment, if necessary to avoid years of waiting time for domestic supply, unless other related work is time consuming to complete.


The time frame on all accounts- from conception to completion - must be brought down dramatically.


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)


iTunes arbitrary policy: What's Offensive, Apple?

Conflicting iTunes policy on offensive material doesn't seem to benefit the consumer


A la Jerry Seinfeld, we have to ask: What’s the deal with Apple and its policy on offensive material in iTunes?

On the one hand, App Store Review Guidelines state that Apple will reject any app that contains offensive material. On the other hand, there’s a specific app rating (17+) for approved apps that may contain offensive material. Here’s how those two look side by side:

From page seven of the review guidelines

And the app rating, which is one of four (the others being 4+, 9+, and 12+) previously reached out to Apple for comment on this issue when we wrote about an app called Game of Secrets, an app which one reviewer — summing up nicely the consensus of many — called “misleading and offensive in every way.” We have yet to hear back.

We can surmise, though, that Apple can benefit from the conflicting policies. In the event it runs into any kind of trouble with an app containing overtly offensive material, Apple can point to the line in its review guidelines that states it doesn’t approve these types of apps.


RELATED: Apple to Pay at Least $32.5M to Settle Billing Complaint

So, if you think Apple will have your back if you are offended by an app it approved, you may want to think again. What’s offensive to you may actually not be offensive to Apple. Apple will decide what’s offensive because, as it states in its policies, they will know it when they see it.

Click here for more Terms of Surrender posts. And let us know if you think you’ve spotted a potential candidate for next time.



Arun Jaitley is the richest minister in Modi cabinet

Arun Jaitley stands out as the richest minister in the Modi cabinet with assets totalling Rs72.10 crore, while Venkaiah Naidu has assets of just Rs20.45 lakh


Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assets worth Rs1.26 crore while Defence and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stands out as the richest minister in the cabinet with assets totalling Rs72.10 crore.


According to the Assets and Liabilities declared by the Prime Minister and other 44 members of the Council of Ministers, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu is among the Union Ministers who has the least assets of Rs20.45 lakh.


Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, daughter-in-law of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, has assets to the tune of Rs37.68 crore.


Minister of State for Coal and Power Piyush Goyal has assets of Rs31.67 crore and is closely followed by Minorities Affairs Minister, Najma Heptulla with assets to the tune of Rs29.70 crore.


Notably, 17 out of 22 Cabinet Ministers are crorepatis including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


The five Cabinet Ministers who are not crorepatis are Naidu with assets worth Rs20.45 lakh, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan with Rs39.88 lakh, Labour and Employment Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has assets worth Rs44.90 lakh.


Health Minister Harshvardhan has assets of Rs48.54 lakh, while Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Ananth Kumar with Rs60.62 lakh worth of assets.


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